ST PAUL, Minn. -- In just nine months Pope Francis has won over fans, and drawn fire from critics, likely just some of the reasons why Time magazine chose him as the 2013 person of the year.
"Pope Francis is a phenomenon I think that Time Magazine captured well because they said he's not changing the church but he's radically re-shaping the language and the style of being Pope," theologian Dr. Massimo Faggioli of the University of St. Thomas said Wednesday.
What he's talking about really, is style.
He's talking about moments where the Pope has caught the world's eye like when he let a little boy approach him in Vatican City without a security guard in sight.
"He's always been like that his whole life," Dr. Faggioli pointed out.
He explained that the Pope really wants it to be known that he is a man of humility; it's why he chose the papal name Francis after Francis of Assisi was the most radical reformer of the Catholic Church because of his belief that for the church to be credible it had to be poor.
For this Pope there is no Popemobile, no riches and castles, he lives frugally and as often as he can at eye level with his people.
These are traits media notice.
He also quickly made headlines when asked about homosexuality and said he didn't reject or condone a person and that a person should always be considered beyond sexual orientation.
"This thing of same sex marriage for him is far less outrageous than hunger, than social inequality," Dr. Faggioli said.
No one expected such vague messages or such overt symbolism from a Pope nine months into his papacy; but noticed they have been.
By the world, by Time Magazine, now looking at a former bar bouncer and wondering what's next.
"He's exactly the opposite of a bouncer. He's letting people in or at least having them interested in listening," Dr. Faggioli said.